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Posts Tagged ‘Cecil Woolf’

Wednesday 9 January [1924]

At this very moment, or fifteen minutes ago to be precise, I bought the ten years lease of 52 Tavistock Sqre London W.C. 1—I like writing Tavistock. Subject of course to the lease, & to Providence, & to the unforeseen vagaries on the part of old Mrs Simons, the house is ours: & the basement, & the billard room, with the rock garden on top, & the view of the square in front & the desolated buildings behind, & Southampton Row, & the whole of London – London thou art a jewel of jewels, & jasper of jocunditie – music, talk, friendship, city views, books, publishing, something central & inexplicable, all this is now within my reach. – Virginia Woolf, Diary 2, 282-3.

The Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain held a one-day conference in London last Saturday that doubled as a general meeting for the organization, as well as a celebration of its 20th anniversary. It was coupled with the unveiling of a blue plaque in honor of Virginia and Leonard Woolf.

“Virginia Woolf and her Relatives” was the theme of the conference, and Marion Dell, Philip Carter and Maggie Humm presented papers.

After the conference, the group walked to Tavistock Square for the unveiling of a blue plaque on the exterior wall of the Tavistock Hotel to mark number 52, where Virginia and Leonard Woolf lived from 1924 to 1939. The house was destroyed in World War Two and later replaced with the hotel.

It was at 52 Tavistock Square that Woolf wrote many of her books, including Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, A Room of One’s Own, Orlando, The Waves, The Years, and Three Guineas. Her diary entries talk about her walks around the square as she thought about the novel she was working on. And her nephew, Cecil Woolf, recalls Leonard and Virginia sitting at a table in the garden and sharing a bottle of wine.

Dame Eileen Atkins, honorary president of the VWSGB, unveiled the plaque, which was funded by the society and the Tavistock Hotel. Afterwards, society members attended a reception at which Atkins read extracts from Woolf’s diaries and letters that reflected upon her life in Tavistock Square and her love of London.

Cecil sent Blogging Woolf these photos that commemorate the day.

Cecil Woolf and Jean Moorcroft Wilson at the plaque unveiling.

Dame Eileen Atkins and Maggie Humm outside the Tavistock Hotel at the plaque unveiling.

The blue plaque on the side of the Tavistock Hotel commemorating Virginia and Leonard Woolf’s tenure at 52 Tavistock Square.

 

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Happy 91st birthday to Cecil Woolf, author, publisher, conference attendee and speaker, Bloomsbury walker, party giver, plaque unveiler, and the oldest living relative of Virginia and Leonard Woolf.

We wish we could be with you to celebrate today. Instead, dear man, we toast you from near and far.

You can read more about him in last year’s birthday post.

Cecil Woolf cuts the cake designed by Cressida Bell for the 100th birthday party of the Hogarth Press last June in Reading, England.

Cecil Woolf, accompanied by his wife Jean Moorcroft Wilson, talks about being The Other Boy at the Hogarth Press at the 100th birthday party for the Hogarth Press in Reading, England last June.

Cecil Woolf published his story, The Other Boy at the Hogarth Press, last spring, unveiling it at the 27th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf.

Cecil Woolf and Jean Moorcroft Wilson at their post-conference party last June at their London townhouse.

Cecil Woolf stops at 46 Gordon Square, London, while giving Blogging Woolf a personalized tour of Bloomsbury in June 2016.

Taking a break with Cecil Woolf in the Tavistock Square garden after the 2016 Woolf conference.

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In a Nov. 21 letter to The Guardian, Richard Shone wrote that Jeremy Hutchinson was the last surviving person to have known Virginia Woolf. He was wrong, as Blogging Woolf noted on Facebook. And Cecil Woolf has set him straight.

In his Nov. 26 letter to that same publication Cecil, nephew of Leonard and Virginia, wrote:

Richard Shone’s opening statement in his letter (Obituaries, 21 November) that “Jeremy Hutchinson … was the last surviving person to have known Virginia Woolf”, is not quite correct. I was a schoolboy when I visited my aunt Virginia and my uncle Leonard (one of my father’s elder brothers) at both Monk’s House and at Tavistock Square, or they visited my family in Buckinghamshire.

Cecil shared his memories of Leonard and Virginia in his monograph The Other Boy at the Hogarth Press, published in June by his own London publishing house, after celebrating his 90th birthday on Feb. 20.

Cecil Woolf at 46 Gordon Square, London

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Ane Thon Knutsen with her hand-bound volume “A Printing Press of One’s Own,” introduced at this year’s Woolf conference in Reading, England.

Ane Thon Knutsen combined two loves with her project A Printing Press of One’s Own — her love of Virginia Woolf and her love of typesetting.

The two come together in her hand-set volume by the same name, which she debuted at the 27th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf at the University of Reading in June.

It includes Ane’s personal, heartfelt essay about her experience finding a space of her own in which she could pursue her passion — typesetting. Her search occurred at a personally challenging time, soon after becoming a mother.

The intersection of the two — and the rescue role Woolf played in it — comprise her story. It includes her experiences conducting research at the British Library, which allowed her to handle the first volumes Virginia and Leonard printed on the Hogarth Press.

About that, she writes:

What contrasts! In some cases they have really tried to print appealing books, but in others they have not made the effort, or investment of time. Inkblots. Everything off-kilter. The complete disregard for the sanctity of the type area. Scraps of paper crookedly pasted on to cover up misspelled names. Damaged types which had not been replaced. These are not books considered worthy of dignified display alongside William Morris and Gutenberg’s bible. This smacked more of punk rock and anarchy. The books bear the marks of temper and a strong will. I was touched.

The essay also includes Ane’s ruminations on why Woolf did not write about the time she spent with the typecase. As Ane puts its,  “She, who could name the feelings, details and experiences we let slip by unmentioned, was perfectly qualified to describe the meditation of typesetting.”

Thoughts of her own

According to Ane, “The book is an essay referring to A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf. The essay reflects upon women’s role in letterpress, and the importance of a room of one’s own in artistic practices.

“In this book I am investigating the first books printed by Virginia Woolf at the Hogarth Press, both in practice and in the written ‘dialogue’ between Virginia Woolf and myself, as we are both self-taught typesetters.”

Two versions

The illustrations throughout both the English and Norwegian versions of the volume are linocuts by Ane’s artist sister, Ylve Thon. All text is hand set and printed together with linocuts on a proofing press.

The English version has a blue cover, is digitally printed, and contains handprinted linocuts and is hand-bound. Both are for sale, with the English version priced at £18. The handset Norwegian version is £75.

Ane’s volume is part of her artistic research project in graphic design at Oslo National Academy of the arts, where she works on a project investigating tactility in printed matter.

You can follow her on Instagram @anetutdelaflut.

“A Printing Press of One’s Own” by Ane Thon Knutsen – Photo courtesy of Ane Thon Knutsen

A look inside – Photo courtesy of Ane Thon Knutsen

Linocuts in the volume are by Ane’s sister, the artist Ylve Thon. – Photo courtesy of Ane Thon Knutsen

Ane’s books among some of her typesetting equipment. – Photo courtesy of Ane Thon Knutsen

Ane met Cecil Woolf at the conference, and he graciously signed a limited edition Hogarth Press centenary keepsake of Woolf’s “The Patron and the Crocus,” available from Whiteknights Press.

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First, there was the conference. Then came the party. In London. With the Woolfs.

On the Monday evening following days one, two, three, and four of the 27th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, Cecil Woolf and Jean Moorcroft Wilson hosted a party in London for their visiting Woolfian friends who remained in town.

I was happy to be among them. But I was chagrined to arrive on their doorstep 20 minutes early due to lightning fast service by my Uber driver.

Cecil and Jean, however, didn’t blink when they answered my too-early knock. They ushered me in and escorted me up the stairs, past stacks of books from their Bloomsbury Heritage Series and a smattering of hats from Jean’s famous collection.

Cecil poured me a glass of wine and settled me in their persimmon-colored sitting room that is casually decorated with original Bloomsbury art by Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. It was magical.

Cecil and Jean are tremendous hosts who know how to make each guest feel specially welcome, no matter when they arrive. They created a wonderful evening full of camaraderie, good food, and drink, while introducing us to their daughter Emma Woolf, author of numerous books and a regular BBC contributor.

Afterward, when thinking about the evening, a quote came to mind that perfectly captures the mood and magic of the evening.

No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself. – Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own (1929)

Cecil Woolf and Jean Moorcroft Wilson hosted a post-conference party at their London home, which also houses Cecil Woolf Publishers.

This side table decorated by Duncan Grant held appetizers, as well as my little Virginia. #travelswithvirginiawoolf

Cecil Woolf and daughter Emma Woolf at the party.

Louise Higham, Suzanne Bellamy, John McCoy, and Eleanor McNees (far right) were among the party guests.

A firescreen painted by Duncan Grant.

Bloomsbury art above the fireplace, along with a piece by Suzanne Bellamy and a photo of Jean.

Judith Allen and her husband Steve.

More Bloomsbury art.

 

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The Hogarth Press is 100 years old this year, and the 27th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf marked the centennial with a birthday party that turned out to be a family affair.

Cressida Bell, granddaughter of Vanessa Bell, designed the cake, which was loaded with chocolate chunks and fruit. Cecil Woolf, nephew of Leonard and Virginia Woolf, shared his memories of working at the Hogarth Press starting in 1931, as well as the history of the business.

The Woolfs’ printing business began with their purchase of a small hand printing press in March of 1917. The couple spotted the press in a printer shop’s window, Cecil said, and purchased it for 19£, five shillings and five pence. It came with a 16-page instruction book, type, cases, and other equipment.

Book and art treats, too

Conference participants who attended the party at the Reading, England Museum of English Rural Life were treated to more than cake and Cecil’s charming talk. They were also able to purchase specially printed keepsake editions of  Virginia’s 1924 article “The Patron and the Crocus.” Included in the slim volume is a facsimile reproduction of a reader’s report from the Hogarth Press archives at the University of Reading.

Party-goers were also able to print their own woodcut of the Roger Fry design “The London Garden.”

The publication of “Cecil Woolf: The Other Boy at the Hogarth Press, Virginia and Leonard Woolf as I Remember Them” by Cecil Woolf Publishers also marks the centennial, as does a new Hogarth Chatto & Windus version of the first book published by the Hogarth Press, the Woolfs’ Two Stories.

Cecil Woolf, accompanied by his wife Jean Moorcroft Wilson, talks about being “A Boy at the Hogarth Press” at its 100th birthday party

The Hogarth Press 100th birthday cake, designed by Cressida Bell.

Clara Farmer, publishing director of Hogarth Chatto & Windus, and Cecil Woolf slice the cake.

The Hogarth Press centenary keepsake of “The Patron and the Crocus” offers two different colored letterpress covers.

Martin Andrews of Typography and Graphic Communication at the University of Reading patiently helped guests print their own woodcut copies of Roger Fry’s design, “The London Garden.”

Woodcuts hanging to dry at the Hogarth Press 100th birthday party.

Party guests enjoying Cecil Woolf’s reminiscences.

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After decades of publishing other people’s books, Cecil Woolf has written a monograph of his own. “Cecil Woolf: The Other Boy at the Hogarth Press, Virginia and Leonard Woolf as I Remember Them” is being launched at the 27th Annual International Conference on Virgina Woolf in Reading, England this week.

To order this monograph and others in the Bloomsbury Heritage and War Poets series, visit Cecil Woolf Publishers.

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